Friday, May 31, 2013


by Veronica Roth
published: Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins
pages: 487

In Dystopian Chicago, there are five factions of people that help to make the city thrive.  When Beatrice Prior turns 16 she has to make the most important decision of her life. Will she stay with her family or choose to be herself and join a different faction?  What follows her decision is an initiation that tests not only her abilities but who she is as well.  She also carries a secret with her that, if found out, could mean her death and suffering of those she loves.

I was a bit weary going into this book, not because I wasn't excited to read it, but because I've had books in the past that were built up like crazy and they weren't as good as I anticipated.  Even so, I was looking forward to reading this for a long time.

By page 50 I was hooked.  The story is quite complex and unexpected.  I really enjoyed reading, anticipating what was going to happen next.  The pacing of this story is excellent.  The isn't a lag anywhere in this story, but to the same degree it isn't too full of movement either.  The balance between action and development seems to be perfect in this book.

The characters were interesting and the way that people in this society are divided up by personalities is strangely inviting.  They are born into one faction and are able to choose which faction they want to spend the rest of their lives.  I imagine this would be an overwhelming decision.

The setting of this story is vivid.  It takes place in Chicago, but it is contrasting to the Chicago I know and love. Veronica Roth cleverly describes places that many people reading this book would been to or at least heard of making it, at least for me, easier to picture.

5/5 Stars


"You'll be up all night with Divergent.  A brainy thrill-ride of a novel."

"A memorable, unpredictable journey from which it is nearly impossible to turn away."
     --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Movies

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This year, as in every year, there seems to be a lot of movie adaptations coming out.  I thought I'd put together a list of the books I want to read that have or will have movies attached to them.
I like to read the book before I watch the movie, so I want to get these read quickly.  Although, there are some that I've seen but didn't realize were books.  It happens.

1. World War Z by Max Brooks - This is coming out in July, I think.  I'm excited to dive into another zombie book.

2. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick - Didn't know this was a book.   I'm interested to see the relationship unfold in the form of a book.

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - Also didn't know this was a book, but now I really want to read it!

4. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - I've had this on my list for ages, and now with the movie in August, it's been pushed to the front of my list.

5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - My brother actually told me about this one.  I'm very interested in the concept of the book.  This one comes out early next year, I believe.

6. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan - I have yet to read any of the books in this series, which is a shame.  But I did like the first movie, so now they're on my list.

7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - The movie looks quite interesting, but a good friend told me to read the book before watching it because of some spoilers.

8. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Waynne Jones - The movie looks very cute and I knew there was a book behind it, so I'm looking forward to some fun when I read this book.

9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - I got this book for Christmas and started it in February; I am still working on it.  But I have a lovely new movie with Keira Knightley in it as a reward for my persistence.

10. Little Women by Louise May Alcott - I heard a rumor that a young Christian Bale is in this movie.  Also, I feel as though I should have read this book by now.

BONUS: Books I've read that are being turned into movies.
Ender's Game by Orsen Scott Card
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Notable Quotable: Isaac Marion (#12)

"In my mind, I am eloquent; I can climb intricate scaffolds of words to reach the highest cathedral ceilings and paint my thoughts. But when I open my mouth, everything collapses."
     --Warm Bodies

Thursday, May 23, 2013

21 Proms

edited by: David Levithan and Daniel Ehrenhaft
published: Scholastic
pages: 289

It's prom, and no matter which way you experience it, it will be memorable. 21 authors have taken the time to share their take on this rite of passage moment in high school.

Over all, this collection was a really entertaining group of extremely unique prom experiences.  Each story had it's own format: one was a one act play, others memoirs and also fiction.  I really liked that there was a memoir among the fiction stories.  For one, I think memoir is sometimes more humorous because it actually happened.  And had I not known that the story was a memoir, it would have read like fiction.

The thing I like about anthologies is that you get a taste of everyone.  You get to find out if there's an author you have somehow missed in your journey as a reader.  I have found several authors this way, notably: David Levithan and Holly Black.  In fact, there are a couple from this collection that I would like to read more of now, including Melissa de la Cruz and Adrienne Maria Vrettos.

I don't know that I would have picked up this anthology had I not been prompted by a reading list, but I am glad that I did.  Each story had a unique take on the ritual experience from the supernatural to the super-typical.  There wasn't a story I didn't like reading, even if I enjoyed some more than others.

Stars 3.5/5


"Ranging from sad to funny to truly disastrous, these memorable stories mark that oh-so-important rite of passage for many teenagers."
     --New York Public Library, starred review

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Great and Terrible Beauty

by Libba Bray
published: Simon and Schuster, 2003
pages: 403

Gemma Doyle isn't like any other proper Victorian lady.  She doesn't care much for being seen and not heard, speaking only when spoken to, or dancing with grace.  What she really wants is to go to London.  After tragedy strikes in her family, 16-year-old Gemma gets exactly that.  She is sent to attend a boarding school in a Gothic mansion that is wrapped in mystery. When she makes friends with an unlikely group of girls, she begins to uncover more about herself and the mysterious Order she keeps hearing about.

I've been looking to read this book for a long time, but it somehow slipped off my radar for a bit.  I'm glad it reappeared!

This book is very character driven, and as a person who is character driven, I really enjoyed the characters.  Gemma is a good realistic version of a 16-year-old girl, she's sweet and intelligent, but can be selfish and bratty.  The growth of the characters was compelling. I couldn't stand Felicity and Pippa in the beginning of the novel but as the story progressed we see a bit more of who they are as people and I warmed up to them.

The supernatural element of this story is very cleverly executed.  To be honest, I didn't actually know that there was a supernatural element when I began reading it and I wasn't sure if I'd like it in the context.  However, it was seamlessly incorporated into the story and the sensory details added to the mood making the paranormal more natural.

My biggest issue with this story was the pacing.  I will admit that there was sections of the story that seemed a bit slow, but it never stayed slow for long.  Every time I started to feel a bit sluggish, something happened that peaked my interest again. It's one of those books that is slow and steady and then it explodes with action.  There a certain point where you just get sucked in until the end and it's definitely worth it.

Believe it or not, this is my first Libba Bray novel.  I can't believe it took me so longer to read something by an author I've heard about for maybe six or seven years.  This book is a great start to the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.  I am thrilled I don't have to wait for the sequels.

Stars: 4/5


"An interesting combination of fantasy, light horror, and historical fiction, with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure...Recommend this to fantasy fans who also like Sherlock Holmes or Mary Russell."
     --School Library Journal

"There's no doubt the mystical elements, along with a touch of forbidden romance, will draw a large, enthusiastic audience, who will come away wanting more about stubborn, willful Gemma and the strange world whose doors she can open at will."

"Gripping and suspenseful.  Colourful...compelling."
     --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A Gothic novel touched by modern conceptions of adolescence, shivery with both passion and terror."
     --Kirkus Reviews

This is An Eclectic Reader 2013 Challenge book!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Dealing with Tough Subjects

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

All these books are difficult to read for their various reasons.

1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (eating disorders)
2. The Help by Katheryn Stockett (racial prejudice)

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (rape)
4. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (abusive relationship)

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (illness)
6. It's Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (mental illness)

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (WWII, nazi Germany)
8. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (sexuality, abuse, rape, abortion, molestation)

9. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (illness)
10. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (abuse)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Notable Quotable: Libba Bray (#10)

"You can never really know someone completely. That's why it's the most terrifying thing in the world, really - taking someone on faith, hoping they'll take you on faith too."
     --A Great and Terrible Beauty

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman
published: HarperCollins, 2008
pages: 312

Bod Owens leads a completely normal life, apart from growing up in a graveyard where most of his friends are ghosts and his guardian, Silas, belongs neither among the living or the dead. Sometimes Bod wishes he could leave the graveyard, but knows that if he does, he will no longer be under the protection of it.  When the mystery of why Bod lives in a graveyard surrounded by ghosts instead of the living starts to unravel, Bod finds out information about his birth family and why they were killed.

This story is a most interesting one.  I never would have thought that a boy growing up among the dead would interest me, but if you put Neil Gaiman's name on it, I will try it out.  I have said this many times recently, but I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

Mystery in this book is enticing.  It seems to be Neil Gaiman's style of writing, only sharing enough of the world so that the reader isn't confused.  Other non-crucial details aside are mysteries to infer from the story.  I really enjoy this way of writing because it allows extra imagination on the part of the reader.

The characters are incredibly interesting and alluring.  We never find out exactly what Silas is, but from context clues we can gather that he's probably a vampire.  I really like that this isn't spelled out for us because it adds to the aforementioned mystery of the novel and the characters.  None of the characters in this book are completely divulged.  I feel like everyone has a secret that they are unwilling to expose, which, for me, makes them that much more realistic.  It would make sense to know a character's every whim if the story was being told in first person, but here it's third person and the characters work.  Everything seems to be quite seamless without needing all the information.

Neil Gaiman has secured his name on my read-anything-this-author-has-ever-written list.  I cannot wait to pick up another one of his titles.

Stars: 4.5/5


"Wistful, witty, and wise - and creepy.... Closer in tone to American Gods than to Coraline, but permeated with Bod's innocence, this needs to be read by anyone who is or has ever been a child."
     --Kirkus Reviews

"An utterly captivating tale... this is a rich story with broad appeal and is highly recommended for teens of all ages."
     --Booklist, starred review

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Light and Fun

hosted by the broke and the bookish.

When I need something light and fun, I generally turn toward the middle-grade and young adult realistic fiction.  Here are some of my favorites.

1. All American Girl by Meg Cabot - This is one of my go to books for fun reading.  I first read it at the beginning of middle school and haven't stopped since.

2. Avalon by Meg Cabot - Meg Cabot is full of great light and fun reads.  I had half a mind to list all of her novels (at least the one's I've read) on this list.

3. Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo - It's a story about a mouse that wants to go on adventures.  What's better than that?

4. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - This story is hilarious and beautiful.  The characters are incredibly entertaining and the writing will keep you engaged.

5. Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - The classic light and fun read is right here. Alice and a white rabbit with a waistcoat, what more could you want?

6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - I don't think I've laughed so hard in my life reading a book.

7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Stephanie Perkins makes the lighthearted world go round.

8. The Sister's Grimm series by Michael Buckley - Two girls become fairy tale detectives and solve mysteries in their new town. They're mostly light but completely fun.

9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - High adventure, true love and lots in between, Goldman has written an abridgment of a nonexistent book.  From page one the humor is already there.

10. Scott Pilgram Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley - A graphic novel that screams hilarity.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Notable Quotable: Dr. Seuss (#9)

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."
     --Oh, the Places You'll Go!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll
published: HarperCollins, 2010 (first published 1865)
pages: 129

Alice is a normal little girl, who doesn't like to read anything that doesn't have pictures in it.  She also doesn't like to just sit around.  One day while she is force to do both, she see a quite peculiar white rabbit in a waistcoat and follows him down a hole.  Alice's day changes drastically as she adventures in a most enchanted land, full of unique creatures and all sorts of trouble. 

I have always really enjoyed the animated Disney movie and the recent live action version.  Alice's story has intrigued me, but I hadn't gotten around to actually reading it before now.  It's a shame. I think what really pushed me to read this was a book called Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin which I read and reviewed in August.  I figured since I had immersed myself in everything Alice, but hadn't read the actual story, it was about time.  And boy, I wasn't disappointed. 

This story is whimsy and mystical and all sorts of strange.  I love the sense of fun I got when reading this book.  The characters are all strange, but wonderful in their own way.  The white rabbit with his pocket watch, and Alice only thinking him strange when she realized that she'd never seen a rabbit with a pocket watch and had never known that they had waistcoats to put their pocket watches in.  The descriptions are just as whimsical as the characters themselves.  The mock-turtle, for which mock-turtle soup is made from, is a turtle who has become a mock-turtle. He sings and tells sad stories of his past.  

All of these beautiful images come for Lewis Carroll's mind and they are spectacular.  He speaks to all ages with this story.  The imagination is captivating and beautiful.  I can't wait to read the rest of Carroll's work. 

Stars: 5/5


"By any reckoning...[one of the] most original works of fiction to emerge from that strange and orginal time known as Victorian England."
     --Guardian (London)

"At once a biting social and political satire sufficiently complex to satisfy the most sophisticated adult and a delightfully whimsical fairy tale to capture the fancy of the imaginative child."
     --Masterpieces of World Literature